The BFR Round-Up January 2022

Leather armschairs surround a table with library drawers. Dark oak bookshelves rise to the ceiling in the background.

January is often a sluggish reading month. I usually end up wading through a meh book or get distracted by making ridiculous goals – not this year though! We read 19 books between us – a cracking start to 2022. This was mainly down to having a quality TBR stack, although quieter weekends and a short stay at Gladstone’s Library definitely helped. Again, it came back to routine; the more structured we are, the more we achieve. Really obvious, but not always that easy to stick to. I find that listmaking and having a full day at home during the weekend really helps to keep things on track.


I surprised myself this January. I’m half doing #beatthebacklog on Twitter/Bookstagram and completed 5 books from the older stacks (oldest = Little Fires Everywhere). Gathering Moss was my favourite this month- a series of essays reflecting on nature, life and being. I felt as if I learned a lot from everything I read this month – from a writing perspective and as a reader.

Books Read (12 books out of 75 target)

  • Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo (4.25/5)
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (4.5/5)
  • Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse (4/5)
  • Paper Girls 5 by Brian K.Vaughan (4/5)
  • Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer (4.75/5)
  • The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (audiobook) (4/5)
  • Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C.Slaght (4.25/5)
  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (4.25/5)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (4.5/5)
  • The Strange Library by Murakami (3.75/5)
  • Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (4/5)
  • New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver (4.25/5)


Al would recommend all this month’s reads. He’s read a lot more King that me and thought that Doctor Sleep was a worthy sequel to The Shining. As predicted, he found Piranesi a little slow for his tastes although the fantasy element piqued his interested. He picked up the C.S. Lewis on a whim. His description – ‘approachable’.

Books Read (4 out of 30 books)

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (4/5)
  • Paper Girls 5 by Brian K.Vaughan
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (4/5)
  • A Grief Observed by C.S.Lewis (4/5)

Little M

Three books down and one on the go in January. Little M found some of the themes in Midnight a bit challenging, but ultimately was happy with the conclusion. She’s enjoying The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips at the moment so I can see us collecting the whole series.

Books Read (3 out of 28 books)

  • Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson (5/5)
  • Bad Mermaids Meet the Witches by Sibeal Pounder (5/5)
  • The Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine (5/5)

Film and TV

We saw two musical classics in January – West Side Story at the cinema and Encanto at home. Both smoothly done. I’m a little jaded with most TV shows, but we have watched the new series of New Lives in the Wild, which is always good for a relaxing evening.

Days Out

Massive scale-back on travelling around the country. Instead, we’ve focused on exploring closer to home with several short bike rides and the bagging of 3 Ethels, taking us to 16 in total (half our yearly goal). Al and I managed to get a long-overdue weekend away at Gladstone’s Library where we ready 4.5 books between us. If you’re in need of a serious reading retreat, check out our post about staying at the library (it was our third time).

February is going to be busy, but we’re determined to get better with pacing it all out. We’ll continue with #beatthebacklog and see if we can hold off buying new books for a little longer. Aside from writing, the aim is to do more exercise, eat well and write every day.

Wishing you snowdrops and sofa time.

Mel, Al & Little M


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